Wednesday, July 4, 2007

and the cat came back....

on june 24 I posted a tribute to my lovely cat gwen - for four days we searched and called to no avail. after four days of non-stop looking we believed gwen must have decided to cross over the rainbow bridge afterall, she was getting up there in cat years and the normally 'chatty' and ravenous gwen was silent and not coming for food. imagine my surprise when today after nearly of fortnight I came home to discover that gwen did not 'cross over' - although much thinner and temporarily dirty gwen is alive and well!

gwen's return gives credence to the expression of a cat having nine lives - I wonder which numbers gwen has now checked off?

mortality, life and death are often on my mind. I don't know if this is because of being over 50 (and therefore eligible for an AARP membership- a definite sign of advancing years), having aging parents who have lost or are in the process of losing many of their friends and peers, or because my quilting projects often celebrate or commemorate the stages of life. when I piece and stitch I am always mindful of the the life or lives the quilt I am working on is for - a life that may be just beginning, a new union, or a life that may have just ended. or maybe my mind goes toward musing about issues of mortality because I am who I am and I have taken the 'daily remembrances' to heart.

I have been away. the primary purpose of my recent trip to texas was to join up with my husband's family to celebrate the upcoming 90th birthday of my mother-in-law. over the last year my mother-in-law has been growing increasingly frail - circumstances dictated that we have the gathering a couple weeks early (her birthday is in mid-july). if you are a 'believer' you may say providence was at work in the timing of this get together. on thursday, june 28th the offspring (and their mates), grandchildren, and the sole surviving sibling of my sweet mother-in-law, gathered together at the nursing home which has been her home for the last 7 months. during the planning of this gathering our purpose was to have a fun party to wish 'mom' a happy 90th birthday. however, once we saw mom and realized her extreme fragility the birthday celebration morphed into a bittersweet 'thank you, godspeed, and good-bye' party - we did not know exactly when mom would leave this mortal plane, but we knew it that it would be soon.

if there is such a thing as a 'good death' I know my mother-in-law had a 'good death.' she did not suffer. although she was not always lucid or cognizant of what was going on around her, her last days were filled with loving kindness as family came to talk, sit, and be there with her. yesterday morning before f & I left fort worth we went to visit mom we knew this would be our last visit - when we got there we announced our presence, we talked about what we had done since we saw her the afternoon before; we informed her we would soon be heading north; we told her we love her and that she will live in our hearts forever, we told her it was okay that she moves on and that when she got there she should say hell-o to 'dad' (who went to that 'other place' 20 years ago), we squeezed her hands, kissed her and hugged her, finally and reluctantly we left.

the hospice nurse came in while we were visiting mom and took her vitals as a result of her findings she put in an order for an aide to come for 'around the clock' care (subtext- 'it won't be long'). she confirmed what we knew: mom was very weak and it would most likely be just a matter of days before she died. close to noon we left fort worth with a heavy heart. but what could we do?- who knows when the time will be? today, tomorrow, next week? then at five yesterday afternoon while we were driving through arkansas, f's sister called to tell us that mom passed peacefully; the woman from hospice who was to sit with mom had arrived, she took mom's vitals and found a very weak pulse and mom's breathing was very shallow, she left to get the nurse when they returned to mom's side, mom had passed on.

although we have returned to cleveland, we will soon be heading south - again we go to commemorate and celebrate a long life of a much loved woman. unfortunately, unlike gwen this is one cat who won't be coming back.... godspeed sweet mom.


Colette Amelia said...

lovely story, lovely hands.

msb said...

I used to have a cat, calico, I called her Amelia Airhead. She was gone 3 weeks. I even had gotten another cat(Loreta). Just skinny and dirty but fine otherwise. My husband passed on May 13, seven years ago in my arms. Life and death, all part of living I think. I am honored to share the road with you fellow traveler.

Anonymous said...

such a wonderful post. passing on peacefully is life's ultimate gift as i see it. thanks you for the hands. they say even more.
say welcome back to gwen.
XX jude

Ms. Mamma said...

this is so moving. sweet and dear and precious. xo

mouse (aka kimy) said...

thanks girlfriends for your feedback. msb - such a blessing that you were able to hold your husband when he passed on, we don't usually think of it but being present with the dying is truly one of life's 'presents' ...ah the circle it goes round and round.
jude - I hope we all get the gift of peaceful passage when it's our time.

gwen is mucho happy to be back expect she was tired of living on what she was able to kill, and the birds are happy that she's back in the safety of the house!

heidi - we should chat about cleveland sometime if you decide you must move on..... however, praying that things have calmed down and there's not so much uncertainty.

i love pictures of hands. ca I miss seeing your hands on your blog - absolutely loved that picture!
love to you all.

jenclair said...

I'm glad your mother-in-law had the benefit of hospice care; the hospice workers who cared for my mother were so compassionate, keeping her as comfortable as possible.

Hooray for the return of Wandering Gwen!